Sal DiMasi and the chicken-or-egg question

In the current Boston Phoenix, David Bernstein writes about the lack of dissent (and dissenting votes) in the state House of Representatives as ruled by Speaker Sal DiMasi — who, despite the thesis of a professor at the University of North Carolina — may be the most powerful politician in the state right now.

"DiMasi’s critics say he runs a tyrannical operation that buys acquiescence and punishes dissent," writes Bernstein, but some say that his power is the result, not the cause, of meek legislators:

“He is credited and blamed with being a lot more heavy-handed than he actually is,” says Arline Isaacson, a lobbyist for gay rights and teachers’ unions. “Because legislators believe the myth, they pre-emptively vote the way they think he wants them to vote.”